A new report from pre-employment screening company, First Advantage reveals over a quarter (27.2%) of all verification checks on CVs between January 2011 and June 2014 uncovered inaccuracies.

Just under a third of these inaccuracies (32%) are considered “major” discrepancies; meaning they raise significant cause for concern for an employer.

Traci Canning, senior Vice President and Managing Director of First Advantage in EMEA, comments: “Many of the discrepancies we’ve found relate to dates of employment, education and professional achievements, and raise concerns about candidates stretching periods of employment and training to cover periods of inactivity or unsuccessful employment. Honesty really is the best policy – candidates would be better served by accurately stating their skills and experience because any accuracies will be uncovered during the screening process.”

Education History

The highest level of inaccuracies was found in candidates’ education history. More than a third (35.2%) of education checks uncovered a discrepancy relating to when, what and where a candidate studied, of which two thirds were considered “major” discrepancies.

2012 returned the highest level of education discrepancies, with a rate of 37.8%. In 2014 to date, the major discrepancy rate has returned to near-2011 levels, after peaking in 2012 at 14.8%. The rate of minor discrepancies has fallen overall to 19.5%, having also peaked in 2012 at 23.0%.

Traci Canning comments: “Precisely why candidates’ education and academic qualifications contain the most inaccuracies is unknown and the subject of much debate. It could be that some candidates assume less attention will be paid to their school, college or university achievements than their employment history and professional qualifications, particularly when they have advanced in their careers. However, it’s important for employers to verify potential employees’ education and academic qualifications, which almost always underpin any further education and employment experience.”

“With several major events generating a great deal of investment and activity for UK businesses, 2012 was an exceptional year for recruitment. Huge demand for temporary and short-term workers was met with even greater supply, resulting in a fiercely competitive job market. In light of that, it’s not surprising to see a peak in discrepancy rates for education and academic qualifications – the most requested type of verification after employment history.”

Professional qualifications, licenses and memberships

Almost a quarter (23.9%) of all professional checks (on qualifications, licenses and memberships not covered by an education check) uncovered discrepancies. Peaking at 11.9% in 2012, major discrepancies have averaged 10.8% during the period, whilst minor discrepancies peaked at 14.1% in 2011, averaging at 13.1% overall.

Traci Canning comments: “The alarming rise of “diploma mills” or “accreditation mills”, which offer sub-standard or bogus degrees in exchange for payment with little or no work involved, has heightened the need for thorough verification of professional achievements. The fact that nearly a quarter of checks on candidates’ professional achievements between January 2011 and June 2014 revealed discrepancies highlights why businesses must do their due diligence to ensure their employees are as well qualified as they claim to be”.

Employment History

One in four checks uncovered inaccuracies in a candidates’ employment history. Major discrepancies have remained steady between January 2011 and June 2014, peaking at 7.5% in 2012 and averaging at 7.0% overall.

Traci Canning comments: “It is here, in the falling rate of minor discrepancies, that we see the first strong evidence of recruiters adjusting their discrepancy definitions to become less sensitive to, for example, very short periods of unemployment/inactivity and slight differences in previous job title and role.”

Rise in screening

Since January 2011, the annual volume of checks processed by First Advantage in EMEA has increased by 25.1%.

Traci Canning comments: “There is a growing awareness and interest in screening across the EMEA region. Employers increasingly appreciate the value of screening, the potential risk to their business of not screening and the need to tackle the “culture of overstatement” head on to ensure their employees are qualified and safe  for the job and that they truly have the experience stated on their CVs”.